Florida State trades Wichita State great Quincy Ballard on Saturday over Syracuse. Ballard has been brought in to replace Frank Anselem, who sits in the transfer portal, as the primary replacement for starting center Jesse Edwards. How does Orange react? Here are the options for moving forward.
Option 1: Find someone in the portal
While it didn’t work out with Quincy Ballard, that doesn’t necessarily mean it wouldn’t work out with anyone else. Syracuse can continue to monitor portal options for someone willing to come in and save Jesse Edwards for a season with the potential to compete for a starting spot the following year. This may, however, require patience. This terrain is very difficult in the portal, as most who enter it expect an opportunity with significant game time immediately. Game time is the main reason to enter the portal in the first place. However, with the abundance of entrants to the portal, there may be a slew of players who find themselves without a home as summer approaches. Perhaps at this point Syracuse can find a player more willing to accept such a role if other opportunities do not arise.
Option 2: Stand Pat
With the difficulty of convincing a transfer, who is likely leaving for more playing time, to immediately accept a small amount of playing time, one option for Orange is to stick with what they have. That would mean John Bol Ajak and Peter Carey as substitutes, or potentially a striker like Maliq Brown to move in if needed. Carey hasn’t played this season due to injury, and we don’t know how well that will be recovered by the time he arrives. Or how ready he’ll be right away. Bol Ajak is a 6-foot-10, 220-pound player entering his fourth season with the program. Bol Ajak has played 22 games over the past two seasons, averaging 5.1 minutes, 0.3 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. Jim Boeheim repeatedly noted last week that Bol Ajak was doing well in training. Perhaps with an offseason of hard work that could translate into playing performances with a more consistent role.
Option 3: Look at JUCO or international options
With the transfer portal, junior college ranks are often overlooked. This can lead to players who would otherwise go into a high major, fall into a major or lower. Maybe Syracuse could find a great junior college willing to take on a reserve role for a year. Beyond that, the international route has helped Orange in the past and could perhaps be valuable again. Syracuse added Marek Dolezaj late in the recruiting cycle this way, and also signed Jesse Edwards late in the period. A top international may be ready and willing to take on a reserve role in the first year with the potential to earn a starting spot thereafter.
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Option 4: Try to convince Frank Anselem to stay
Frank Anselem traveled to Georgia this weekend for an official visit. He had another big major program showing interest as well. That said, there is a familiarity to Syracuse. He developed well under the tutelage of Allen Griffin. After next season, he would have the opportunity to compete for the starting position and would likely be the favorite to win it. Could that be enticing enough for Syracuse to convince him to return? It would be a tough ground as his decision to come in is likely to find a place where he can play more next season. But that option could be on the table depending on Anselem’s portal recruitment.
The second option is perhaps the most likely scenario. The first option includes a hard step to portal targets, which is why Quincy Ballard went elsewhere. The third option can be difficult because it is late in the cycle. The fourth option is also a difficult task. Still, there are options on how to proceed for Syracuse coaches and there’s a long way to go before the summer when incoming players start arriving. There could be twists and turns before this point.
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